When I last left off, I had a choice between two paths - continue on my way past the flood gates or work for the rich man who let me use his private beach. Because the latter sounds more novel, that's the one I chose (although, after I beat the game, I went back and finished the other path, and it turned out I should have done both, because each one was only like two levels long).
The next level, called "The Have Nots" was one of the more interesting levels of the game. The Evil Lord is guy named Gordon who wants to make a world where money is everything. To get to him, I needed to save up 1000g, but none of the monsters had money, and thus I had to do jobs for the townspeople to get through. Of course, the jobs you do are just running into caves and killing monsters (or rocks), so it's not too different, but it had a different feel from a standard mission.
It was a little rough, because the jobs didn't pay very well and took awhile to do, but the Goddess did not give me any discount on turning back time. The obvious parallel between the Goddess and Gordon did not go unnoted.
Another odd level had no monsters, and you had to upgrade your character by fighting a sage turtle. It was pretty bizarre.
I think my favorite series of levels were the ones where you befriend Syldonix, the dragon, and he lets you fly around on his back. These were a bit faster paced, and had graphics reminiscent of the SNES's mode 7. A nice bit of nostalgia, there.
The second to last level was "Farwell Bandit Trio." It is a typical jrpg convention that you have a recurring squad of minor, comic relief villains who turn out to be not nearly so nasty as the main boss, but I'm not sure the Bandit Trio has the charisma to pull it off. The level itself gave me a bit of trouble, due to invisible wind currents, but it didn't take too long to get through (one advantage of this game is that even the tough levels take no more than 3-4 minutes).
Anyway, the final level was a huge island where you have to zip around reuniting with the various npcs you helped over the course of the game. Noire has revived the Overlord (something he can apparently do only once every hundred years), and you need all your power to take him out.
When you destroy him, he hits you with the biggest, most spurious bit of false equivalence I'd ever heard, "you destroy evil lords so evil lords won't destroy you." Yes, the Overlord is such an idiot that he thinks that makes the hero and the evil lords exactly the same. No one will miss him.
Except, perhaps, Noire, who escapes. The hero and the Goddess spend the next few years chasing him down, and at the end of his adventures, he pays the Goddess his remaining gold to freeze him in time, so that he may revive when Noire next threatens the world.
After that, I went back and found a second ending. By taking a hidden exit to a previous level, I found a gem of evil. This gem released the Overlord early. He then proceeded to turn all my friends to stone and dispatch me with a single hit. Then, the game crashed.
This happened the next couple of times I tried the level. It turns out that there's a glitch in the game that can only be worked around by switching the game into retro mode. Retro mode isn't bad, per se, but I think it might have gone too far in making the characters into pixelated sprites. I used to play a lot of 16-bit rpgs, and most of them looked better than Half Minute Hero's retro mode (I think they tried to make it clear that they were doing old-school art without acknowledging that old-school games were capable of relatively smooth and attractive sprites)..
The alternate ending requires you to get the aid of the five time beasts. Each of the beasts had a unique gimmick, and their levels were pretty fun. The first one blew me around with random storms, the second one did not allow time resets. The third created a double of the hero who ruined my reputation. The fourth stopped time. And the fifth revived some bosses for a short boss rush (it was a pretty random selection, and none of them were really memorable enough to be worth writing down).
Next up is Evil Lord 30, which promises to be interesting. It'll be nice to see a new twist on the Half Minute Hero formula.